Federer beats Nagal to stay perfect in first round of U.S. Open

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Rodger Federer returns to Sumit Nagal during the first round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. (Charles Krupa/AP)

NEW YORK –Roger Federer bounced back from a shaky start to keep a perfect record.

The five-time champion improved to 19-0 in the first round of the U.S. Open by beating Sumit Nagal 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in the last match to finish.

There were plenty of jokes in Flushing Meadows about Federer facing an opponent whose name sounded so close to longtime rival Rafael Nadal’s, but Federer wasn’t laughing when the 190th-ranked qualifier from India took the first set.

But Federer soon took control to avoid losing in the first round of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2003 French Open.

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic felt good enough after his workmanlike first-round victory at the U.S. Open to do a little dancing.

Djokovic, who is now 34-1 in his last 35 Grand Slam matches, dispatched Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

He then gave an on-court interview in which he acknowledged dancing in Central Park as part of his pre-match preparation. Djokovic promptly went to his bag and pulled out two rackets that he used as faux maracas while he showed off his Latin dance moves to the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.

Djokovic, winner of this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon crowns, is seeking his fourth U.S. Open and 17th Grand Slam tournament title.

Reilly Opelka’s first main-draw match at the U.S. Open went about as well as possible: The 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) American hit 26 aces in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 victory over 11th-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy.

The only real slip-up by Opelka came when he served for the match ahead 6-5 in the third set. Still, after getting broken there and eventually dropping that set, Opelka recovered quickly to grab the fourth.

Opelka, currently ranked a career-high 42nd, acknowledged that his serve wasn’t at its very best, but said the victory "shows that I’ve got more than that to back it up."

He turns 22 on Wednesday, when he plays in the second round.

His best Grand Slam showing was a third-round run at Wimbledon last month.

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